BI project approach | BI project management
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BI starts from the business

Does successful Business Intelligence start from the business, the processes and the strategy, or from the information systems and technology that support the business? Should an organization first collect the data (data-driven) or must we first map out our strategy and the associated information needs (business-driven)?

Combine top-down and bottom-up

The answer to both questions – as it appears in practice – is that we need to combine the approaches: top-down and bottom-up, business-driven and data-driven. However, Business Intelligence must always begin with (or from) the business . It is, after all, called ‘business intelligence’. BI projects that are not managed by the business are unlikely to succeed, simply because on completion the project results will typically not match with the organization’s ‘company language’ and information needs.

Too much data

It can also happen that Business Intelligence systems turn out to contain too much data and too little meaningful management information. As a result, users still need to search for the needles in the haystack. Successful Business Intelligence, however, ensures continuous interaction between content (indicators and dimensions) and structure (the architecture of the data warehouse), whereby the former determines the latter: structure follows function.

Shape BI according to your business processes

We can only give Business Intelligence shape and meaning if the business processes and the objectives of our organization are in fact leading whilst developing the Business Intelligence system (Van Beek, 2003).

IT must cooperate as much as possible

An important key question is: what management information managers and knowledge workers need in order to both monitor their goals and results and (quickly) achieve and improve these results . A Business Intelligence system cannot function without data and Information Technology. For that reason, business operations and IT must cooperate and interact as much as possible. This emphasises the continuous interaction that should exist between IT and the business, in each BI project.

The BI project approach
Figure: Business operations and IT continuously alternate and interact during BI projects.

The departure point is the business

The departure point for each BI project is the business itself. Via a number of interactions between IT and business operations, IT will ultimately deliver the final product back to the business.

  • Phase 1: The business provides the indicators and IT checks whether the data for the different key performance indicators is in fact available.
  • Phase 2: The business provides the Business Intelligence strategy and IT translates that strategy into a future-proof architecture including the required tools and technology.
  • Phase 3: The business checks whether the indicators indeed deliver the right results and IT rolls out the Business Intelligence system throughout the organization after which the organization makes sure that it is embedded and that a PDCA cycle is set up.

Promising BI technology

Naturally, in addition to these official moments of contact and transference, much more communication will take place concerning informal (or less important) matters. Besides all this, IT has a role to alert the organization about new, promising technology in the field of Business Intelligence, which may help solve existing – and future problems – in the business operations. The close collaboration between business and IT requires a project manager who can deal with both fields (IT and business). Business-driven and technology-driven go ‘hand in hand’ and experience shows that this combination can produce highly successful results.

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